A one-story, century-old cottage at 2219 Ocean Ave. was nominated for landmark designation at the recent meeting of the Landmarks Commission, despite opposition from the owner and a City Staff report that did not recommend designation.
The Commission listened to arguments from a number of local residents who had organized to save the building from demolition. The demolition permit was reviewed at the May 8 Landmarks Commission meeting, where it was decided to continue the item pending the consultant’s findings. While the consultant’s report stated that the building was not quite as old as claimed by the supporters (some people claim the house was built in 1898; the City report says that it appears to have been built around 1903), and that it had undergone modifications that compromised its vernacular beach cottage style, the house’s defenders argued that it represented Santa Monica’s early history, that it was a familiar and distinctive sight in the neighborhood and could be seen from the beach, that tourists frequently got out of tour buses and took photos of it and that its features included a stained-glass window that was unique.
The supporters submitted a 300-signature petition to the Commission, and some of them waved signs with slogans like “Save the Cottage.” One woman burst into tears during her speech to the Commission, saying, “I feel the souls of these people [the former tenants] very strongly.”
Representing the current owner, the University of Illinois Foundation, to whom the former owner had bequeathed the building, Darlene Waits presented the Commission with testimony that the house was falling apart, was not a good example of the early 1900’s time period because remodeling had resulted in features from “at least three different eras” and that nobody famous had ever lived there.
The Commissioners felt that more information was needed, but because it was necessary to take action before July 1 to forestall demolition, they voted to nominate the cottage, thus allowing time for gathering information with which to make a final decision.
An apartment complex at 1920-1934 Montana Ave., which had also been temporarily rescued from demolition so that the City could prepare a report on its possible merits, was denied a nomination. The Commissioners were unable to disagree with the staff report’s findings that the building, a mixture of Streamline Moderne and Colonial Revival elements, did not meet any of the six criteria for landmark designation and was not the only example of the style in the neighborhood.
The Commission delayed action on a Certificate of Appropriateness for design approval of a project that will incorporate a landmarked turn-of-the-century cottage at 954 5th St. with new condos on the same lot. The project involves a large number of variances to accommodate the juxtaposition of the cottage with the new construction. The Commission did review the text amendments that spell out the variances in order to provide comments to the Planning Commission, which was scheduled to review the project on June 21.
In other actions, the Commission also continued action on a Certificate of Appropriateness for installation of five wireless access points at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (a City Landmark) until the City engineers can improve their plans for placement of the devices. A Certificate of Appropriateness was granted to a plan to modify the design of the roller coaster-theme structure at the entrance to Santa Monica Pier.
No action was taken on the demolition permits at 1050 Centinela Ave. or 852-54 10th St.